How to Pick an HVAC Certification Class near Woodstock Virginia
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next step is to choose an HVAC vocational school near Woodstock VA. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the ideal one to obtain the training that you need? A number of future students will make their decision based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. While these are significant considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. Some of the other factors that you need to research are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and other criteria will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to select an HVAC training program, let’s look at what a heating and air conditioning contractor does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Professional in Woodstock VA
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the trade that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC techs provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, however every state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Earning professional certification is not required, but an optional means for Woodstock VA HVAC technicians to establish that they are exceptionally qualified and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are multiple acknowledged certifications within the field that are available. Below are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a competency examination and can be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are provided in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing may be mandated in your location, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it’s imperative that you select an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the program you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Schools
There are a number of options offered for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, often accomplished in just six months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive edge in the job market and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief explanation of each credential offered near Woodstock VA.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more comprehensive background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring two years to complete, many degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor’s Degree. The Bachelor’s Degree in HVAC is suited more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Picking the ideal credential program will be based on what your long term career objectives are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One approach is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Woodstock VA, eventually going back to acquire a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your strategy, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Schools
Choosing an HVAC school online is one possibility to obtaining your education and earning a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Many also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be participated in online, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for some Woodstock VA students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are more economical than other traditional alternatives. Even travelling expenses from Woodstock and study materials can be lessened, helping to make schooling more economical. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to fit school into your hectic schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Training Programs near Woodstock VA
After you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you desire to earn, either on campus or online, you can begin to narrow down your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Woodstock VA area and all over the United States to select from. That’s why it is very important to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school evaluations. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the first 2 aspects you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC trade programs in the Woodstock VA area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school’s programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Confirm that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you receive a quality education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, some states require that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate could suggest that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It may also suggest that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It’s also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, which may produce more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Woodstock VA HVAC employers to help graduates obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC vocational programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Woodstock VA HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC technician you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Woodstock VA HVAC company if they can provide some pointers. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Woodstock VA home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s important that you receive as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Speak with several of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to some of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Woodstock VA, check that the programs you are comparing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.
Attending HVAC School near Woodstock VA?
The town was established by charter in March 1761 as a part of what was then Frederick County. It was originally formed by a land grant from Lord Fairfax, and founded as Muellerstadt (Miller Town) in 1752 after founder Jacob Miller. The town's charter was sponsored by George Washington in Virginia's House of Burgesses. Woodstock has been the County Seat of Shenandoah County, since the County's formation in 1772.
In the late 1770s, John Muhlenberg was pastor at a Lutheran church located in the heart of Woodstock. As a famous story of Muhlenberg has it, at conclusion of his farewell sermon on January 21, 1776, Muhlenberg threw off his clerical robes to reveal an officer's uniform beneath and shouted, "there is a time to pray and a time to fight..." With that declaration, the story says he then called for volunteers to join the 8th Virginia Regiment under his command.
As of the census of 2000, there were 3,952 people, 1,685 households, and 1,029 families residing in the town. The population density was 1,216.9 people per square mile (469.5/km²). There were 1,840 housing units at an average density of 566.6 per square mile (218.6/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 91.62% White, 2.73% African American, 0.08% Native American, 0.18% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 4.28% from other races, and 1.09% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6.43% of the population.
Choose the Right HVAC Training Classes near Woodstock VA
Finding the right HVAC training program is an important beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling trade. As we have addressed in this article, you need to select a technical school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC profession. Other things to search for are lots of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling options and whether or not evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don’t forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have laid out in our checklist for comparing schools, you’ll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Woodstock VA.
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